Smoking can lead to a number of serious health problems including lung
cancer and heart disease, but many people may not realize that smoking
can also significantly increase the risk of eye problems and could even
Smoking increases future risks of developing cataracts or macular degeneration.
Women who smoke when they are pregnant increase their risk of premature
delivery, which could result in retinopathy of prematurity for their newborn
child. Retinopathy of prematurity is a potentially blinding eye disease
in premature babies.
The more you smoke, the greater your risk of developing these eye diseases.
Young people who smoke often do not consider the effects smoking may have
on their health 10 or 20 years down the road, but even smoking as a teen
or young adult can potentially lead to these serious eye diseases.
How does smoking cause eye disease?
Smoking irritates the eyes by releasing chemicals into the lungs that
travel through the bloodstream into the eyes. Smoking also reduces the
number of antioxidants in the eyes. Antioxidants are critical in fighting
disease and illness.
Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world, and cause visual
impairment for more than 3 million people in the United States. Some data
suggests that smoking is the cause behind 20 percent of all cataract cases
in the United States.
Amedical study by William G. Christen of the Harvard Medical School which began in 1982
and monitored smokers for several years found that individuals who smoke
at least a pack of cigarettes a day could be up to 200 times more likely
to develop cataracts than non smokers.
In addition to causing cataracts, smoking has also been linked to macular
degeneration and can worsen symptoms of dry eyes. Even individuals who
receive second-hand smoke can develop these serious eye conditions.
Are you a smoker? If you stop smoking today, you may significantly reduce
your risk of developing serious eye diseases that could cause vision loss.
Why risk your health and your vision by smoking? If you need help to stop
smoking, check outthese resources from the American Cancer Society.